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Potato Salad Recipe

by on May 23, 2013 · 57 comments

A simple and classic potato salad – We love this stuff! Joanne and I would be happy to hover over a bowl of it any day. It has few extras thrown in, too. You’ll notice that we’ve made lots of suggestions for substitutions and mentioned where things are optional (like eggs). We love everything listed, but potato salad is personal. Always add to your likings and taste.

Simple Potato Salad

How to Make it Better — Potato Salad Recipe

Our recipe is pretty classic with just a few extras thrown in. Here are our best tips for making potato salad.

Best Potatoes for Potato Salad and How to Cook Them

For us, potatoes need to hold a little shape in potato salad – not fall apart. We go for small, waxy and thin-skinned potatoes. Small yellow, white or red potatoes are perfect. They will take between 12 and 20 minutes to cook. At 12 minutes we check for doneness — if a fork can pierce through easily, they are done.

We try not to use russet (baking) potatoes — they aren’t as waxy and seem to fall apart. We have used them on occasion (they still taste great). If that’s all you have, don’t worry. If using russet potatoes, dice them before cooking — they are usually much larger and would take a long time if cooked whole. Keep everything similarly sized then cook until a fork can easily pierce the potato.

For smaller potatoes (we prefer these), we cook them whole. Dicing them up will make things go faster, but when you cook the potatoes whole, they maintain more of their flavor and natural sweetness. We’re also partial to the texture of whole cooked potatoes. Speaking of cooking potatoes, there’s really no need to boil your potatoes. When you do they violently bash against each other. Instead, bring the water with potatoes to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. The potatoes cook just as quickly.

Simple Potato Salad Recipe

No matter what potato you choose to cook, don’t forget the salt. We cover the potatoes with 1 1/2 inches of water then generously salt the water. Two teaspoons of salt per quart of water should do it.

By salting the water, the flavor of the potatoes really comes out. They won’t taste salty, only like awesome potatoes.

Once your potatoes are done, drain them and stop the potatoes from cooking by adding them to an ice bath. After 2 to 3 minutes they will be cool enough to handle.

Simple Potato Salad RecipeNow, you have two choices: skin- on or peel them. We peel them. Since cook them whole, it’s really easy to peel the potatoes — just pinch the skin and pull it away. (So much easier than peeling raw potatoes).

After that, cut into bite-size pieces and mix with dressing and other ingredients in our or your favorite potato salad recipe.

The Extras — Vinegar, Mustard, Pickles, Eggs and Herbs

Potato salad is a personal process and there are lots of opinions out there as to what makes it “perfect” or “the best.” The recipe below is our version — it includes everything we love. Here are a few things we love to add — remember that you can add none of it or more of it. It’s your potato salad, after all.

The Basics — The base to our potato salad recipe is pretty classic — a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise. We add more sour cream than mayonnaise to lighten things up a bit — mayo can be heavy.

Mustard — We love adding mustard. It jazzes everything up. We’re partial to American-style yellow mustard, but Dijon or whole grain mustard work well, too.

Vinegar — We learned this tip from Alton Brown. After cooking and cutting, scatter a tablespoon or so of vinegar over the potatoes. The vinegar really makes the potatoes stand out. In our recipe we call for apple cider vinegar, but white wine vinegar, white vinegar or even some dill pickle juice work.

Pickles — Our house isn’t stable without dill pickles in the refrigerator so adding them to potato salad is a no brainer for us. If you don’t like them leave them out or replace with sweet pickles.

Eggs — Maybe it’s how we were brought up or what we’re used to. To us, potato salad without eggs is missing something. Hard boiled eggs add texture and extra creaminess. If you aren’t a fan, leave them out.

Fresh Herbs — The most common herbs in potato salad are parsley and chives, but dill, cilantro and tarragon all work well. In our recipe below, we use two both dill and parsley. Experiment for yourself to see what you love. Add a tablespoon at a time then taste. Also, remember dill and tarragon are a little stronger than other herbs so add accordingly.

Simple Potato Salad Recipe

How to do make potato salad? Do you have tips of your own? Share them in the comments below.

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4.8 from 12 reviews

Potato Salad Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Why we love this recipe. Joanne and I would be happy to hover over a bowl of this potato salad any day. It’s relatively classic with a few extras thrown in. You’ll notice that we’ve made lots of suggestions for substitutions and mentioned where things are optional (like eggs). We love everything listed, but potato salad is a personal process. Always add to your likings and taste.

What you need to know. We choose small yellow, white or red potatoes and cook them whole. The potatoes maintain their natural moisture and sweetness this way. If you’re in a pinch, you can chop the potatoes, just remember they well take less time to cook. Adding fresh herbs are a nice touch – we like to use a combination of chopped parsley and dill. Parsley, dill, chives, tarragon and cilantro all work well. Add about 2 tablespoons of herbs at first then add more to taste. Dill and tarragon are strong, so you may not need the whole 1/4 cup.

Equipment you’ll need. A large pot, 2 medium bowls, 1 large bowl, measuring cups, spoons and a chef’s knife.
Created By:
Yield: 4-6
You Will Need
  • 2 pounds (907 grams) small yellow, red or white potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (substitute: white wine vinegar or white vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup (125 grams) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard (substitute Dijon or whole grain mustard)
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) finely chopped red onion (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup finely (50 grams) chopped celery (3 ribs)
  • 1/3 cup finely (60 grams) chopped dill pickles
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped, optional
  • 1/4 cup (12 grams) chopped fresh herbs (see note above)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Directions
Cook Potatoes
  1. Add potatoes to large pot then cover with 1 1/2 inches of water. Season with salt — 1 teaspoon for every quart of water.
  2. Bring water to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Cook 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork.
  3. While potatoes cook, set up an ice bath. Add cold water to a medium bowl then add ice. Drain potatoes then add to ice bath. Once cooled, peel potatoes by gently pinching the skin and pulling it away.
  4. Chop peeled potatoes into bite-size chunks then add to a large bowl. Scatter 1 tablespoon of vinegar over potatoes and lightly season with salt.Potato-Salad-Recipe-Step-1
Prepare Potato Salad
  1. While the potatoes cook, add onions to a small bowl then cover with warm water. Wait 10 minutes then rinse. (This tones down the onions a little).
  2. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise and mustard.Potato-Salad-Recipe-Step-2
  3. Add dressing, onion, celery, pickles, eggs and herbs to potatoes. Gently stir to combine. (Try not to mash the potatoes). Season with salt and pepper.Potato-Salad-Recipe-Step-3
  4. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve cold or bring to room temperature.
Notes and Tips
Make-Ahead Tip: If we have the time, we make this a day in advance. The flavors really meld together overnight.

Storing: Keep refrigerated salad up to 3 days.

Cooking Hard Boiled Eggs: For instructions on how to cook hard boiled eggs, visit our post How to Cook Hard Boiled Eggs.
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About the Author

Adam

I'm Adam Gallagher and alongside my wife, Joanne, I photograph and share favorite recipes from our kitchen. Sharing our recipes began as a hobby, turned into a dream and now has become our business. I just love that.

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57 Comments

1 Nicole May 24, 2013 at 3:36 am

I love potato salad, too! It’s funny that your recipe is exactly how my mum has been making it for the last 50 years, and that’s on the other side of the Atlantic in Germany. No German barbecue is complete without this delicious salad.

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2 James Weston May 25, 2013 at 1:38 am

Ahh…bacon

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3 Cheryl May 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm

It doesn’t taste like Mom’s potato salad unless there’s some diced apple in it!

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4 Sally May 27, 2013 at 1:49 am

I found your site by looking up how to make hummus. I really like the videos shown on how to do your recipes. I then checked out your recipe for guacamole and watched that video.
Looking on your Inspired Taste.net, I saw your potato salad recipe. I have not tried it yet, but I will. I have never used sour cream in potato salad. The next time I make it I will try this. However, my favorite thing in potato salad is black olives.

Thank You, Sally Drexler

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5 ChicagoNovice May 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm

This recipe is perfect, thank you. I had fresh chives to use, and my hubby has been asking if I will make potato salad recently. I might eat it all tonight!! Five stars.

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6 Shalryn May 29, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Your recipe has a lot of the items generally used in potato salad at our house, and it is almost as good my Oma’s, but believe it or not, we found it a bit plain. My maternal grandmother learned to cook in Kaiser Wilhelm’s Summer Palace in Germany, and the potato salad made there had over 50 ingredients. My mom never got the exact recipe from her, but Oma did leave a legacy of superb potato salads with a complex mixture of tastes, textures and colors. For our basic potato salad, we also add a bit of creamed horseradish, minced red radishes, shredded or minced carrot, minced celery, and fresh dill, parsley, chives and winter onion. From there, we customize. Sometimes we add cubes or shreds of European ham, shredded bauernschiken, or seasoned pork, turkey, or chicken. A bit more rarely, it’s chopped walnuts or pecans, slivered blanched almonds, or crushed hazelnuts. For a dash of contrast to the tangy, vegetable goodness of the salad, sometimes I incorporate fresh, sweet green Perlette grapes or arrange strawberries on the side of each plate.

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7 rudolphia corriette June 13, 2013 at 2:02 pm

i going and try it on fathers day thank u,it look good so i think it will taste good also

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8 Lucy June 13, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Wonderful recipe. Not too time consuming, but tastes excellent. Thanks loads!!!

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9 debbie decker June 18, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Pretty much the same,but I add cooked bacon bits. And I leave the pickles for the hamburgers! Everyone askes for my PS!

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10 Dawn Walker July 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Excellent!
I have been cooking for 36 + years, and I always learn something new from your videos and comments at the end of the recipes.
Good job guys!!!
P.S> I enjoy Joanne’s voice, very easy to listen to!

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11 Karl July 17, 2013 at 7:28 am

I guess everyone has their own recipe for this simple dish, so here’s mine :)

Jersey royal potatoes, any kind really will do, but I like a firmer potato salad and not mashed potatoes with onions and bacon!
Spring onions or scallions depending what you call them.
Smoked bacon.
Chives, LOTS of chives!
Mayo, creme fraiche or soured cream depending on your taste.
Lemon juice
salt/pepper

Simple to make really. Cook the potatoes until they’re soft. Drain off the water then mix everything together. Unless your partner is a vegetarian, make theirs first, put it aside THEN add the bacon to yours ;) usually I just buy the dried chives from schwartz but you need to add alot to get the taste. If I can, my girlfriends mother grows chives and gives me a fair crop so I add those instead. Turns the salad green, it’s awesome!

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12 Amy July 21, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Loved the recipe! I left out the pickles and used parsley and dill as you suggested and it was perfect. Everyone in my family loved it, including my picky ten-year-old. Thanks for such an easy, tasty, straightforward recipe! – Amy

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13 whilehewasout July 25, 2013 at 3:52 am

Yum this looks so good and I love that it is not flooded with mayo – perfectly balanced ingredients : ))) I’d surely have to skip the dill though for the boyfriend’s sake!

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14 Nancy August 6, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Sorry but this potato salad doesn’t come close to the way I make mine, but as you say, everyone has their own favorite to make. I have three grown children, and none of them will eat anyone elses pot salad but mine. I am not a gourmet cook by any means, but two of my children insisted on having their rehearsal dinners at the house so that they could have Mom,s potato salad!! Just sayin.

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15 Joanne August 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm

There’s a family potato salad recipe on Adam’s side that everyone craves when we all get together, too. It’s been passed down and even though I’ve made it, it always tastes best when his Mom makes it :) Family recipes are the best!

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16 Nancy 2 October 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Where’s the better recipe, Nancy? You should post it!

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17 Diana-Elizabeth August 16, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Awesome recipe !!
I’m always looking for new recipes because my family is Mexican ; therefore , we only know how to make traditional Mexican food. I was in the mood for a patato salad so I Googled it and came across this one. Everyone in my family loved it! My mom and dad have always been fans of potato salad, but we never knew how to make it. I left out the pickles only because we usually don’t have any, but it was still Amazing ! Thank you for putting up your recipe worth five stars !

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18 Joanne August 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm

That’s so great. Glad you and your family liked it :)

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19 Mary August 30, 2013 at 8:45 pm

This recipe is just what the dr. ordered! I love it,and im gonna twerk my seasonings a bit then I will be lovin it even more! Thanks for your input!

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20 Debbie u August 31, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I’ve been making “the same old potato salad” for years, so I decided to look up a recipe. As usual I look at many recipes and then, mix up the ideas and come up with my own. However, I found tips on here that I had never heard of before. Ex; salt potatoes thoroughly, ice bath, vinegar, and a few others! For the most part I followed this recipe to the letter. But I decided to get a little daring. Lol I used bread and butter pickles and Visalia onions. Mmmm mmmm! I also mixed all ingredients (except potatoes) then just tossed the potatoes in. (That way I was sure it was mixed good and I didn’t have to over stir he potatoes. Thank you for a great recipe! My family loved it!

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21 Joanne September 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm

You are very welcome! Love all your additions.

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22 kathy September 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm

I am making it for a picnic Sunday. I lost my mom’s recipe and this looks just like it. I miss it and the Amish Potato salad is not the same. Kathy

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23 Billygoat September 13, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Best ever. Used the dill relish and for the mustard …both

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24 Sangy September 21, 2013 at 7:33 am

Wow! So simple to make and oh so delicious! Made it with avocado bits included and i my family loved it! Thank you for the recipe.

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25 Joanne September 22, 2013 at 10:24 am

Love that you added avocado. Great idea!

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26 Klaudyo September 30, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Wonderful recipe, I just loved it.

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27 Hellykay November 14, 2013 at 4:11 am

Great recipe for anybody, made with knoledge and love. I like the explanation how it works and why do you choose one or another ingridient. Thanks a lot, I’m you loyal customer! Love the photos too – woke my appetite. By the way, I’m new in American cusine, never thought that potato salad can be so interesting.

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28 Joanne November 18, 2013 at 11:20 am

So glad you found us :)

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29 Christine November 27, 2013 at 10:04 am

This sounds yummy. I was snooping for a similiar potato salad recipe like mine with a twist. I will definitely be making this tonight, so my family can enjoy it tomorrow for Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing!

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30 Kelly November 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I made this and it was killer!! I made one with Miracle whip though for my mom and she had sweet relish the other was like this and the vinegar really does pick up the taste!! Ty Ty Ty

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31 Sharon December 13, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Really great, simple to follow and great tasting

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32 Patricia January 7, 2014 at 6:10 pm

I’m pregnant and CRAVING potato salad. Had a general idea on how I was going to make it but was looking at recipes to expand on my idea. I must say this one appealed to me because of the simplicity of it. And the fact it was lighter on the mayo ( baby doesn’t agree with a lot of fat/oil) tried it and OMG perfect. Satisfied the craving perfectly!! Thanks!!

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33 Joanne January 8, 2014 at 8:23 am

So glad you liked it Patricia. Congrats on the baby :)

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34 Jane January 13, 2014 at 8:45 pm

I have just made it and the sour cream works wonders. It is really yummy!!! I made it as well as a green salad as an accompaniment to the crayfish tails that son gave us for Christmas.

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35 marianne February 15, 2014 at 11:19 am

Thank you for this awesome recipe, I’m always looking for new ideas, tips and tricks. I love apple cider vinegar! I’ll certainly check out your other recipes and look forward to what you send to my email!

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36 Ruby February 24, 2014 at 1:45 am

I just love hearing everyone’s variations on potato salad! Makes me feel inspired! When I make mine I like to keep it really simple. The ingredients I use are potatoes (small red or yellow boiled whole), chopped sweet onion, diced celery, diced dill pickles, and hard boiled eggs. I dress it with mayonnaise (for sandwiches I use light mayo, but in potato salad it has to be regular mayo, not light), a little dijon mustard, some paprika and salt to taste and just a plash of pickle juice. Never fails to delight! Also, to keep it from getting too watery the next day I let all the ingredients (post chopping and dicing) sit in a paper towle lined bowl for an hour of so before combining them.

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37 stephany March 2, 2014 at 2:58 pm

going to try this tonight never made this but i love potato salad looks supper yummy

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38 Marlene March 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Instead of dill, I like to add scallions or sweet pickle relish for a twist on flavor.

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39 Cheryl Gracy March 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I always include pimentoes and celery. I also use Miracle Whip instead of mayo.

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40 Annie March 10, 2014 at 4:23 am

Made this today! Everyone loved it! Great with our barbeque outdoors! A very hot day, a Australian holiday long weekend here and a yummy salad to share with family and friends! Thanks! It was a real hit! Your website is great – so glad I found it! Take care!

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41 Joanne March 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Hi Annie, so glad you enjoyed the potato salad. (We wish it was warm where we are … a bbq sounds wonderful).

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42 kelly March 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm

this sounds perfect! the only thing i would add would be a little paprika on top.

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43 Ralph Green March 12, 2014 at 12:34 pm

This is just like my mother’s recipe and also my favorate. I’m 76 at this point and mom has been gone for years but the potato salad I make is still the same. I do favor a good redwine vinegar and a small splash of olive oil. Avocado will be added the next time I make – that is a perfect addition!

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44 Shannon March 31, 2014 at 6:33 pm

It is quite possible this is the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten. I don’t know why I didn’t think to cut the mayonnaise with sour cream before. I also added a half teaspoon of curry powder. You can’t really taste curry, it just gives it a nice round flavor.

Thanks for the great recipe!

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45 Joanne April 3, 2014 at 10:47 am

The sour cream is our favorite part – it does make such a difference. So glad you enjoyed the salad!

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46 Tina April 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I always had trouble making potato salad where I just end up throwing it in the garage because I could never get the potatoes right.
I have to say My family loves this recipe with the sour cream Oh so yummy.
Love the video I made my salad watching you all the way.
Five stars.

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47 Adam April 10, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Nice! Glad it worked out for you.

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48 Miranda April 9, 2014 at 11:08 pm

MMm MMm! So delicious! I used lite sour cream, balsamic mayo, spicy brown mustard, celery, red potatoes with the skin left on, and extra hard boiled eggs! :) I had a little taste test before I put it into the fridge to chill and YUMMY! Thank you so much for the sour cream tip! I will have happy co-workers tomorrow!

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49 Adam April 10, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Happy coworkers are a good thing! Glad you enjoyed the potato salad.

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